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"Chaos Theory" (3b - end. Ensemble, Marie POV)

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  • Marguerite
    It was the Nightcrawler s company Marie found herself craving once she had gotten done with Rafe the Non-Wonder Boy. Kurt had set up his home in the robing
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 2004
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      It was the Nightcrawler's company Marie found herself
      craving once she had gotten done with Rafe the Non-Wonder
      Boy. Kurt had set up his home in the robing room behind the
      chapel, since he had taken the role of priest upon himself
      and no one seemed to mind. In fact, everyone from the
      littlest child to the Professor himself ended up in that
      chapel at one time or another, seeking a confessor or just
      quiet sympathy. No one could have predicted the quiet
      sympathy part, but there it was.

      The best thing about Nightcrawler was that once he stopped
      introducing himself every ten seconds, he turned out to be a
      very good listener. When people got him to drop the circus
      act, when they drew Kurt out from beneath the veneer, he was
      as wise and gentle as Hank, only without the six million
      dollar vocabulary.

      Kurt was singing something in German while arranging candles
      in neat rows, when Marie slipped into the chapel. She
      noticed that his tail swung back and forth in time with the
      music. "That's pretty," she said quietly, so as to keep from
      startling him. "What is it?"

      "Ein Deutshces Requiem," he said in his heavy accent. "A
      German Requiem. Johannes Brahms, you haf heard of him, yes?"

      Her mouth twitched. "My mama used to play the lullaby to me
      when I was a little girl. On the piano."

      "Very nice. Do you play?" he asked, indicating the baby
      grand with its dust cover partially pulled back.

      "No. Scott does, and a couple of the kids. I never learned."
      She shrugged. "Too busy planning my little adventures. Do
      you play?"

      Immediately, Kurt drew his three-fingered hands under the
      baggy sleeves of his jacket.

      "Oh, I'm so sorry, I can't believe..." She hung her head,
      then slipped her hand into his sleeve and took the blue
      flesh firmly in her grasp. "I apologize."

      "No need. Sometimes it is good when someone forgets, for a
      while, what I am." He patted her head and ushered her to a
      seat in the first pew. He sat beside her, his tail mildly
      moving back and forth like a cat's. "There is something you
      need?"

      "Just a little peace and quiet. It's nice here. You don't
      have to sit with me, you can do whatever you were doing."
      She smiled at him. "Especially if you sing some more."

      His grin was delightful, once you got past the scars and the
      pointy teeth. And the blue thing. "You flatter me, madchen,
      but I will finish if that is your pleasure." Again his voice
      rose, reflected back in the marble and the wood, ending so
      softly that Marie could scarcely hear him.

      "It's beautiful. What does it mean?"

      "It's the thirty-ninth Psalm: 'Lord, make me to know the
      measure of my days on earth, to consider my frailty, that I
      must perish.'"

      Marie shivered even though the chapel was not cold.
      "That's...food for thought."

      "It is a reminder to every day live as if it is the most
      important one of your life."

      "Or the last," Marie whispered.

      "Not for many, many years," Kurt insisted. "It is not a time
      for gloom, it is for the rejoicing. We thought Jean was lost
      to us, but she returned and, Gott willing, her mind will be
      restored as it once was." He looked down and away. "Of
      course, the jealousy is bad when it is of the dead, and
      worse when it is of the dead come back like Lazarus from the
      grave."

      She couldn't help blurting out, "Do you think Scott and I
      are sinners?"

      Kurt took a few seconds before responding. "Ve are all
      sinners in one way or another. But if you ask me, Kurt, is
      my love for dese two men a sin, or theirs for you and Jean,
      then I say no."

      "How do you--"

      "The Nightcrawler knows all," Kurt said with a grand wave
      that made Marie giggle in spite of herself. "I haf eyes and
      ears, and also a brain. It takes no genius to see that you
      are all unsure."

      Sighing, Marie hunched her shoulders and looked at the
      floor. "I wish there was a clear right and wrong, you know?"

      "But then there would be no free will to choose the best
      path." He patted her on the shoulder. "I cannot choose for
      you. But I will be here when the choice is made. No more can
      I offer."

      "No more can I want," Marie said sincerely. She glanced at
      her watch. "The Professor should be back by now."

      "If there is anything I can do..." Kurt said eagerly.

      "Thanks. Thank you very much." Marie left the chapel and
      headed back to the main house. The Professor's study was
      empty, as were the classrooms, making Marie even more
      anxious to locate him. Something prickled in her mind. I'm
      here. She bolted up the stairs to her room, almost knocking
      Kitty off her crutches, and found the Professor looking at
      the mystery novels she had on her shelf.

      She was too winded to speak, so the Professor did it for
      her. "I have just had a very illuminating session with Dark
      Phoenix. I believe I have a solution to our problem."

      "That's wonderful," Marie breathed.

      "It's taken me far too long to piece together the clues. I
      am not half so clever as your Chief Inspector Wexford."

      Marie chuckled. The first Ruth Rendell book had been a gift
      from Ororo when Marie was recovering from the Liberty Island
      incident, and she had been hooked ever since.

      Xavier continued. "In any event, my first theory was that
      the Dark Phoenix takes Jean's energy and subverts it. Then
      Jean - or the Phoenix herself - theorized that it was
      proximity to you that caused the problems, since you're so
      attuned to both Scott and Logan."

      "What do you think now?"

      He took a deep breath. "I believe that it wasn't Jean's will
      to live that brought her back from Alkali Lake. I couldn't
      tell you how it happened, but from everything I've been able
      to discern, the link is between the Phoenix and Scott."

      Marie turned this over in her mind. "You mean, Scott brought
      her back? The bond, the psi-bond or whatever they called it,
      that's what saved her?"

      "Think about it." The Professor sounded almost jubilant,
      like Hank with a new cure for something. "It took Jean
      almost four days to rejoin us, without contacting anyone.
      But she did contact someone. Scott. He was pulling her in:
      I'm convinced that was the source of the nightmares. On a
      subconscious level he was doing what he only wished for when
      he was awake."

      "Calling Jean back to him." It hurt, far more than she had
      anticipated, and she had to take a few slow breaths to calm
      herself. "So it's not the Scott in my head that's setting
      her off. It's Scott himself."

      "I believe that to be the case. Once faced with the flesh
      and blood image of the man who had called her back, the
      psychotic break began and Dark Phoenix emerged to...how
      shall I put this...?"

      "To explore the wilder side of Jean?"

      "Exactly. The source of Dark Phoenix's energy is actually
      Scott's self-loathing, the guilt he feels over her death and
      his subsequent actions." Marie's face must have shown her
      horror, because Xavier immediately added, "This has nothing
      to do with you, Marie, you must understand that. The
      emergence of Phoenix had already occurred long before you
      and Scott began your...arrangement."

      Marie wanted to deflect the subject. "Did Jean tell you
      these things?"

      "No." He was firm. "She did not. I doubt that even the
      Phoenix herself understands how Jean was saved from the
      waters. After all, how can pure hatred understand pure
      love?"

      It sounded so simple when the Professor said it. Marie
      studied her fingernails carefully. "So, what do we do now?"

      "I believe it will be possible to sever the psychic link
      Jean has with Scott, without doing any damage to either of
      them. I have an idea about how that can be done, but it will
      require your cooperation."

      Her mouth was dry. "What's your plan?"

      "Dark Phoenix believes that you are the catalyst and that
      you are actually blocking her from finishing her takeover of
      Jean's personality. I intend to lure her into Cerebro,
      ostensibly to remove the bond between the two of you - but,
      in actuality, to sever the bond between Phoenix and
      Cyclops."

      Marie picked up a heavy bookend and turned it over and over
      in her hands. It was marble, and its smooth, cool surface
      reminded her of Bobby. She grimaced and set the bookend down
      with a dull thump. "Who knows about this?"

      "No one except Jean. Or the Phoenix. Her telepathic powers
      are remarkable now, Marie, and I do not want to divulge any
      more information than is absolutely necessary. I will ask
      Scott and Logan to be there and I'll tell them the truth at
      that time - Phoenix will find nothing odd about their
      presence."

      "Logan?" Marie asked. "I understand that you need Scott for
      the actual event and me for a decoy, but why Logan?"

      The Professor's eyes were dark and troubled. "When I said
      that the procedure would probably cause little damage to
      Scott or Jean, I was telling the truth. What I left out is
      that you also have a link with Scott, and it may cause
      you...it may be difficult for you. That is why I want Logan
      present, so that if anything goes wrong, he can 'lend' you
      some of his healing energy."

      "Oh." What else could she possibly say?

      "If you agree, then we shall begin shortly. Only the four of
      us will know the truth about what is going on. I will shield
      my thoughts, and I will help you shield yours. I promise to
      protect you to the best of my ability."

      She knew that, of course. But it was nice to hear the words,
      to have it spelled out so clearly for her. She gave him a
      grim little smile and nodded. "When do you want me there?"

      "Give me half an hour. Jean is coming then, and by that time
      I will have contacted Scott and Logan." As he wheeled past
      her, he looked up at her with admiration. "You are an
      extraordinary young woman, Marie."

      "Just you remember that," she replied with false
      cheerfulness.

      Marie wondered if she should fill her half hour with another
      trip to the chapel. To be shriven, perhaps, in the
      inevitable event something went wrong. Then she remembered
      that the Professor wasn't even going to talk to Ororo. This
      really was just a family thing. A great big dysfunctional
      family thing.

      She put on long gloves and brushed her hair so hard it
      crackled with static electricity. She looked in the mirror,
      looking at her own face as if were that of a stranger.
      Older. Sadder. Probably not wiser, just older and sadder,
      because, hell, a wise woman would not be headed for Cerebro
      and almost certain disaster.

      It started simply enough, with the Professor, Scott, Logan,
      and Jean waiting near her as the door opened.

      It ended with Jean grabbing Marie and Scott and dragging
      them inside, then sealing the door so that not even Cyclops'
      blasts could open it.

      "I know that the Professor isn't telling the truth about
      needing to sever the bond between us," Jean said to Marie.
      Phoenix's voice was strong, resonating through the parabolic
      chamber. "He has something else in mind."

      Damn, so much for shielding their thoughts.

      "Don't hurt her." Scott, speaking with the soft, reasonable
      tones of someone speaking with the insane. "She just wants
      to help. If you need something, if you need powers, take
      mine, not hers."

      Jean - or the Phoenix, Marie wasn't sure how to think of
      this strange amalgam of the two - gave Scott a sickening,
      evil smile. "I wouldn't dream of hurting Marie," she said
      mildly. She's going to be my new home."

      "What?" Scott and Marie cried together.

      "The only bond I need severed is the one here." She touched
      her temple. "I need to be free of the body of Jean Grey. So,
      my sweet girl, you will touch her until you take all her
      power. Until she dies. And at that moment, I'll enter your
      mind. And there I will stay, right there with the source of
      all my power."

      "I won't do it!" Marie cried. "I won't touch you, I
      won't..."

      She didn't get to finish the sentence. Phoenix raised her
      hand and Marie was unable to move. She was immobile, like
      rock, except that she could feel and hear everything. The
      pounding of her heart. The shrill laughter of the Phoenix.
      Logan on the other side of the door, adamantium claws
      shrieking against adamantium doors.

      Scott's words, gentle and sad. "You know I won't let you do
      this. Whatever it takes, I'll stop you, even if I have to
      kill you."

      Phoenix's arms lowered and her eyes turned from copper to
      soft brown. Confused. Pleading. "Scott, no, don't do it."

      Marie could not close her eyes, so she had to watch as Scott
      put a hand on his visor and shot Jean with a thin pulse of
      red light. She grunted and fell backwards, nearly sliding
      over the edge of the catwalk.

      "Is she dead?" Marie tried to whisper, but her mouth
      wouldn't move. So Phoenix-Jean wasn't dead, was still
      clinging to enough consciousness to keep Marie frozen.

      Scott's steps faltered as he reached for the control of his
      visor once more and pointed his face toward Jean's limp
      body. "I have to break the link," he murmured in a voice
      choked with tears. "She can't be linked to me anymore, she's
      too dangerous." He leaned over and stroked Jean's face.
      "Jean. God, forgive me."

      Oh, God, he was going to kill her to break the link...

      Only he didn't. He sank to his knees, sobbing helplessly. He
      pulled Jean's body close to his and held it just as he had
      held Marie's. That morning. Only that morning.

      She was still processing this when she saw Scott stand up
      and walk over to her. "And I need you to forgive me, too,
      Marie. My darling, beautiful Marie, forgive me."

      He shed his gloves and put his hands on her bare face. She
      struggled against the invisible force holding her in place,
      but to no avail, and she felt the first surges behind her
      eyelids. Scott pulled back one hand and removed his visor,
      placing it on Marie's face with fingers almost too weak to
      perform even that simple task. His eyes were closed, but
      lightly, as he continued to cup her face, and just as
      Marie's vision swam crimson, he slid to the ground.

      Jean's own voice overpowered the fading Phoenix, thin and
      frightened. "Scott! Scott!" She turned to Marie as if seeing
      her for the first time, and Marie collapsed, convulsing with
      the full force of Scott's powers.

      "He's not trying...to come back," Marie croaked. "Get the
      door...get...Logan..."

      Jean turned toward the door, screaming for help, trying to
      pry it open by sheer force of will even though the Phoenix
      power that had sealed it was far greater than her own. The
      Phoenix took hold of her mind again, sending her sprawling,
      her hands scrabbling toward Scott's. "Let me go!" she cried.
      "Let me go!"

      "Jean," Scott said softly. "Look at me."

      She turned to him, tears streaming down her face. Scott
      opened his eyes then, those beautiful, tormented blue eyes.

      "I love you, Jean," he whispered.

      Then his face went slack, and Marie could no longer sense
      his presence in her mind.

      The Phoenix's laugh turned into Jean's scream as that link
      was severed. Marie focused her waning strength on Jean.
      "Door! Logan! He can save Scott!"

      Jean hauled herself to her feet, her body shaking with sobs.
      She held her arms open wide, and the doors slid open. Logan
      ran up to her, his face nearly as pale as hers as he looked
      over her shoulder and saw Marie lying on the floor.

      And Scott's dead body.

      "Marie," he gasped, racing to her and putting his hand on
      her forehead. "Marie, is he...?"

      "He's dead," Marie answered, hardly believing that she was
      saying the words. "I want him back, Logan, I want him back!"

      He wasted no time peeling off his gloves and putting his
      hands on her, one on her forehead and the other at her
      carotid artery. He shuddered, the veins in his face and
      hands standing out, but he kept contact until Marie pulled
      away from him.

      She couldn't rise, couldn't move her legs. She began to
      crawl to where Scott's body lay, then Logan lifted her in
      his strong arms and carried her to Scott's side. Marie put
      her hands on his flesh. Nothing.

      "It took a while with you," Logan murmured. "Don't give up,
      Marie!"

      Jean knelt on the other side of Scott. Her hair was
      plastered to her face and she was crying and praying all at
      once. "Please, please..."

      "Reach out with your mind, Marie," Xavier said from his
      vantage point behind Logan. "Find him and bring him back."

      She tried. Oh, God, she tried so hard, but he wasn't there,
      he was too far away to find. "He wanted to go," she sobbed.
      "That's the difference, he wanted to go, and he's too far, I
      can't find him, oh, my God, I can't find him!"

      "Hold on!" Jean and Xavier cried out in unison, and hold on
      she did until Logan's power was spent and she could do
      nothing more than weep for him along with the others.

      ***

      Four days passed, and the children were silent yet again.

      Marie stood by the window in Scott's room, feeling the
      afternoon sun on her face, breathing in the last remnants of
      his scent. With her eyes closed, she could almost feel him
      with her.

      Jean was in the room as well, sitting on the bed she had
      never shared with him. She was talking softly, almost to
      herself, saying the same things Scott had said a few months
      earlier.

      "It's my fault. I should have been stronger. I should have
      stopped him."

      "There was nothing you could have done." Marie had used
      those words before, too, and they were no less poisonous to
      her soul. "Jean, you didn't ask for the Dark Phoenix power.
      And you can't bring Scott back by starving yourself to
      death." She reached out to Jean and took her gaunt, fragile
      hand.

      "I don't deserve to live," Jean said without a trace of
      self-pity. When Marie squeezed her hand a little tighter,
      she added, "I won't kill myself, Marie."

      Marie relaxed her hold and exhaled.

      As Jean rose, she let go of Marie's hand and whispered, "I
      don't deserve that kind of peace."

      "Oh, Jean--"

      "Are you coming down?" Jean interrupted. "Kurt said he was
      going to begin the service at three o'clock."

      Marie shook her head. "I've already seen him dead. I can't
      do it again."

      "I understand." Jean started for the door, then turned
      around. Her heel squeaked against the wood floor. "Marie,
      you're not going to go away, are you?"

      "No," she replied, softly but firmly. "The Professor told me
      that he couldn't imagine this place without me any more than
      he could imagine it without Scott. He's lost Scott. I can't
      leave him now."

      "I'm glad," Jean said. "I'll put a flower in the coffin from
      you. A red rose. He liked them, he could see the color so
      clearly."

      "Thanks." Marie turned her face back to the window.

      She would not look at Scott's waxen face in the coffin, nor
      at her own reflection in the mirror. She did open her eyes
      at last, after she had put on Scott's visor to cut back on
      the lingering effects of his mutation. Hank had assured her
      that it would fade in time. He had meant it kindly. But once
      the mutation was gone, Scott would be gone.

      Marie looked out of Scott's window, through Scott's glasses,
      and saw Logan getting on Scott's motorcycle. He looked up at
      her, once, his eyes full of anguish. Marie was not leaving,
      but Logan was, never to return.

      She put her hand over her lips, then pressed her fingertips
      to the windowpane as Logan started the engine.

      ***
      END
      ***

      END NOTES:

      Yes, there was a character death. No, I didn't warn anyone
      beforehand (including the beta readers). There were two
      warnings about "disturbing subject matter." A word to the
      wise is sufficient, and surely we are all wise.

      Hank's backstory was something I invented to reconcile the
      blue, furry character from the comics with the human-looking
      interviewee in XM2.

      This story was written in response to "Fan the Vote," an LJ
      community where authors volunteer to write stories for
      readers willing to contribute to the Kerry campaign or other
      good causes in exchange for stories of the donor's choosing.
      Macha "bespoke" my services, and her request was fic in
      which Jean returns and chooses Logan over Scott, with tragic
      consequences ensuing. In other words: if this story
      disturbed you, blame her. :)

      Actually, don't blame her TOO much - she had to beta-read
      her own story, for which I thank her profusely. Also, many
      thanks to Emily Meredith, crack...uh, movie dealer
      extraordinaire for introducing me to these characters and
      demanding...uh, inspiring my participation in the fandom,
      and for beta reading a story that squicked her pretty badly.

      Ruth Rendell, especially Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara
      Vine, rocks.

      Feedback is always wonderful: marguerite@...




      "You don't want to tempt the wrath of whatever from high atop the thing!"--Toby Ziegler, "Election Night"

      http://4dw.net/marguerite
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